The Victorian Government has invested $126 million to improve freight and passenger rail services for the state’s regions.
The upgrades are designed to support regional communities, create jobs and boost economic activity in regional Victoria. They also form part of the state’s economic response to COVID-19.
An $83 million freight improvement package will focus on replacing sleepers, repairing ballasts and renewing level crossing equipment along almost 400km of critical freight-only rail lines.
The works will provide regional growers and exporters with more viable freight options as the shift from road to rail continues, helping farmers access key domestic and international markets.
$36 million will go towards maintaining the V/Line Classic Fleet, with works to be done by Bombardier, which will support local jobs in both Bendigo and Melbourne.
More than 20 new workers will be hired in V/Line fleet maintenance roles as engineers, repair workers and cleaners.
A further $7.5 million will be spent improving tracks across the regional passenger network – delivering more reliable services from Deer Park Junction to Ballarat, Ballarat to Ararat, Donnybrook to Seymour, Corio to Waurn Ponds and the Bendigo East Track.
These maintenance works form part of the Victorian Government’s $328 million investment in freight, public transport and roads upgrades, which are expected to create and support more than 600 jobs during the pandemic.
The Victorian Government is investing more than $2.7 billion in economic stimulus as part of the Building Works package, to kickstart the economy and support workers through the pandemic.
Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight, Melissa Horne, said, “The upgrades will mean produce can be transported from farm to port much more quickly, opening up key markets to Victorian farmers.”
Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll, said, “We’re building on our unprecedented investment in regional rail, and this maintenance blitz will be a boost for local jobs and keep Victoria moving as we recover from the Coronavirus crisis.”